October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Read and share stories to honor survivors who have been impacted by domestic violence.

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Barbara Swanson

I have severe rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, colitis and other aliments. In the early years of my diagnosis, my doctor innocently asked, “How is your father’s health?” My answer, that “I did not know,” prompted a deeper conversation about my abuse as child. I explained to my doctor that it is not something I ordinarily talk about, and the subject had never come up. These diseases that I suffer from are hereditary, and no one in my family has them — only me. She then explained her belief that the abuse was what caused all of my immune diseases. If there is extreme stress when the immune system is developing (in childhood), the immune system goes into fight or flight mode. This causes an overactive immune system, which causes the diseases. My father was abusive mentally and physically to me, and he had a concealed carry permit. The pain and suffering from the countless surgeries, time out from work, and now disability, could have all been avoided. We need strong background checks and common-sense gun laws.

Reacting shows support for gun violence survivors.